Chelsea and the Football Association have been accused of a “cover-up” for not referring alleged comments by referee Mark Clattenburg to the police. The Metropolitan Police have dropped their investigation into a complaint that Clattenburg used “inappropriate language” on two Chelsea players.
The complaint was made to the police by the Society of Black Lawyers. “It sounds remarkably like a football cover-up,” the society’s chairman ,Peter Herbert, said. “It sounds remarkably like the football industry wanted to have this issue swept under the carpet.” Chelsea made a formal complaint against Clattenburg on 29 October following their 3-2 home defeat by Manchester United. A day later, the FA opened an investigation into the allegation, part of which was that Clattenburg used racial language.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police began their own probe based on a written complaint by Herbert – not Chelsea or the FA. It is understood Chelsea did not give evidence to the police because they felt the FA was the appropriate body to deal with the matter. On Tuesday, the police investigation was discontinued because “no victim had come forward” and “without a victim and/or any evidence that any offence has been committed, the matter cannot currently be investigated”. The FA confirmed its investigation would proceed, but Herbert is furious that neither the governing body nor Chelsea has taken the matter to the police.
He said the society would take up the FA’s handling of the allegations with Sports Minister Hugh Robertson. “We strongly suspect that the FA and/or Chelsea have failed to provide the information to the Metropolitan Police in order for them to conduct a proper investigation,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that just a month ago, very few in the sport had even heard of the Society for Black Lawyers. Now, the organisation and its chairman are front and centre of the game’s discourse.” “The information we had is that there are ‘no victims’. Well, if there are no victims, what on earth has been referred to the FA in the first place?
“What on earth are the FA and Chelsea playing at then? Are they having some cosy exchange of statements between themselves and not giving it to the police? “We’re going to ask the borough commander for an explanation. Was there any co-operation? Was any evidence given? If none was given by the FA or Chelsea we want to raise that issue with the Minister of Sport.” Herbert is particularly critical of the FA’s decision not to involve the police once Chelsea made their complaint.
“If the Metropolitan Police are not provided with statements what are they supposed to do?” he added. “If a football club has registered a complaint with the FA, we would expect the FA to refer this matter to the Metropolitan Police. “The FA does not have the tools to investigate race-hate crime. We think that until the FA gets its house in order complaints like this should be investigated by the police.